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Overview of Solar Panel Systems

With so much choice of Solar Panel Systems on the market, how do you know which system best suits your power usage, this page explains.

Every year more and more options become available on the market. The technology behind solar systems continues to get better and better every year, with this though becomes more complex and what is the right system and what I should be installing to serve my purpose. New questions like should I install a battery and should I install a system with a inverter that’s capable and installing batteries in the future?, should I oversize the system? and many more. We will endeavour to answer as many of the most common and give an understanding on how we can pick the right system to serve your purpose.

If we were to break it down into the most important reasons that people come to us looking for solar, we could break it down into three separate sections, these are economical, environmental and the principal of solar power.

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When we talk about the financial side of solar, there is a fine line between installing a system that gives you the best return of investment (ROI) and installing a system that will minamise bills.

Both are very valid reasons to install solar and the most common quest what size is the right size system to serve our purpose. This is not a one-size-fits-all as people have different reasons for installing solar.

It’s always good to look for a value option. Site systems and overcapitalize if it’s not practical. Although we see value in any solar system between the sizes of 3 kilowatts (kw)  and 6.5 kw.  The question needs to be asked – which of these two options will serve my purpose best?

We like to explain it this way if we have two extremes which one of the next two options seems like it suits yourself the best.

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Option 1

If you’re looking at installing a solar system and you want to do your part for the environment, reduce your bills moving forward. If you’re not 100% sure whether you’re going to be in your house in 2 to 7 years time, you see that it’s a good time to install solar, you wish to take advantage of the state incentives and you don’t want to over capitalise on the solar system. Then a 3kw system may suit your situation the best.

Option 2

If you’re looking to install solar and you’re planning on living in the property for well in excess of 5 years and there’s some client suggest to us that “that they’ll be carrying me out in a box before I leave”.  We want to reduce your bills as much as humanly possible not just now but for the future, we have that little bit extra money today to put towards the system and looking for a long-term investment. A 6 kw to  6.5 kw system may be the right system for yourself.

These are the two extremes for a domestic property but this gives you an idea on what system serve your purpose we suggest after 5:54 kW because in Victoria the majority of retailers will only offer an export (power to be feed into the grid) of 5 kw and any more that 6.5kw will not be allowed , whilst still claiming federal rebates.  This part is a little complicated and our design team can discuss further upon communication either on site / over the phone. There is also other options including battery on it add-ons and systems up to an above 10 kW, once again this is easier to discuss in more detail with one of our designers.

Inverters

To put some context behind the inverters – Over the last 10 years our team at velocity solar have replace panels of a handful of houses but without a specific number replaced more than 600 inverters in the same time frame. We believe that inverters are the most important part of the system, we only installed top of the range inverters with a 10 year warranty for this reason.

There are three styles of inverters to pick from when looking at installing a solar system

Option 1: Grid Connected DC Solar System (Direct Current)

This is the most common system an inverter on the inverter gathers the solar power from the panels and converts a DC power source into usable 230 volt supply for a domestic installation, if there is no specific reason to go for a different option this is the best value for money and practical solution.  The inverter we would recommend is the Australian owned and made Fronius Inverter, and we also have no issues in recommending the German owned SMA. Both are our leading inverter manufacturers and as mentioned we would be selling with a 10 year warranty.

If you wish to add optimisation to these style systems – we would then offer a SolarEdge inverter which is an Israeli company. This system is a DC system but comes with optimisers that can be installed on a module level to give better production, their system comes with a 12 year warranty and is a good solution where shading may occur

Option 2: Grid connected AC Solar Systems

This system has a lot of added benefits on top of most standard inverters.  These benefits include module level monitor of each and every panel on the roof,  it comes with consumption monitoring built-in as standard. There is a lot more facility to design systems where limited roof space is available, they give slightly better yield due to optimisation of a individual panel rather than a multiple string of panels, and lastly without over stating the fact that it’s a slightly safer system than a standard inverter.

We install a lot of these systems where you may find shading to two other buildings trees chimneys and other obstructions.

Option 3: Hybrid Solutions

This is the newest area of solar inverters and the technology continues to be improved year in and year out it is possible to install any inverter today and know that in the future AC coupled retrofit batteries will be able to be installed in conjunction with the solar system.

However using a hybrid inverter gives the client the ability to add a battery to their solution with minimal effort and additional cost in the future.  They do this by having internal battery management systems which communicate directly to the batteries.  Due to this functionality a hybrid inverter may cost and extra thousand dollars to $2,500 depending on the inverter.  The solaredge inverter mentioned above has the capacity to be used as a hybrid inverter and we also recommend other inverters such as the redback hybrid inverter.  As time moves on a lot of other options will hit the market and it is very important to get specialist advice when looking at a hybrid solution.

There are a few different options when looking at inverters and it is important to get the right advice before looking at which inverter to install and we highly recommend is purchasing a high quality inverter that will last.

Panels

When we discussed panels it gets a little bit more complicated, there is so many different options on the market and there’s a sales pitch for every single panel on the market. The complicated part is digging through what is and is not relevant and making a thorough decision on what is available and what will suit my purpose.

Throughout the years tier 1 also very common term and gave some sort of a surety that the panel manufacturer was a decent company and produced a decent panel.  The criteria is not what it used to be but at least gives us a guide, it includes things like the amount of solar installed across the world and the financial security of the company, treat this as a useful guide but not the number one criteria for selecting a panel.

The price of solar panels can change considerably from one company to another and from one efficiency to another.  The bottom end solar panel on the market is approximately 3 times cheaper than the top end panel manufacturer on the market.  There are only 3 min factories on the market at the moment that offer a 25 year workmanship & manufacturing warranty, these three companies are LG, Sunpower and REC. These three companies are leading the way if design technology and warranties.  Other premium quality companies include when I go Q Cells, Tindo Solar and Solaredge’s smart module.

From here there are a lot of other different options that has value for money, we like the Trina solar panel . Trina has been around for a very long time, and is older than 95% of all other manufacturers and has been the largest producing solar manufacturer in the last eight to 10 years.  SunTech is also of good quality.  From here there are other options, some of which will be good and some which will be below standard. If you are looking at other options that are not mentioned above, then please do your due diligence to make sure you have confidence in the panels.

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Panels have different efficiencies, what this means is that for a standard footprint of a panel you may be installing a panel between the size of 250 watts and up to 365 Watts as of March 2019.  The higher wattage panels allow for less panels to be required on a roof space, needless to say a 365 watt panel will cost a lot more than a 250 watt panel, it is still very important to note that the quality of the manufacturer is just as important as the efficiency of the panel itself.

When looking at solar panels there is a huge range, due diligence is definitely required to make sure you have a reputable brand, as the brand is just as important if not the most important part of guaranteeing a panel and production for many years to come. The industry standard is for a panel to still produce 80% of its initial yield 25 years after it’s installed therefore stating and expectation of at least 25 years on your roof without faulting.

In conclusion,  there are a lot of options when looking at the three major factors mentioned above.  Sizing for economical and environmental reasons, inverters for functionality and reliability reasons and panels for longevity building reasons. This is an overview and hopefully helpful, but our team it velocity solar have dedicated designers to make sure that each and every client gets the ideal solution that will serve their purpose.

We’re here to help you,
which circumstance best suits your scenario.

Building a New Home
Building a New Home
Building a new home and researching solar systems, we can make the process so much easier.
Heading Towards Retirement
Heading Towards Retirement
Building a new home and researching solar systems, we can make the process so much easier.
Sky Rocketing Power Bills
Sky Rocketing Power Bills
You're sick of paying exorbitant power bills and want to fight back.
Environmentally Conscious
Environmentally Conscious
You want to make a difference for environmental reasons.

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